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Inquiry into drug war to continue, says ICC

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NCRPO Chief Guillermo Eleazar checks on Drug Paraphernalias and other evidences at a raided abandoned house in North Greenhills, San Juan City last Dec. 06. — PHILSTAR/MICHAEL VARCAS) 

THE International Criminal Court (ICC) said it will continue its preliminary examination into President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s war on drugs despite the country’s withdrawal from the Rome Statute last March.

In a report released on Wednesday, the ICC said it will still continue its assessment of the information to determine whether the alleged crimes committed in the course of the drug war are under the jurisdiction of the Court.

“This assessment is strictly guided by the requirements of the Statute and being conducted with a view to reaching conclusions within a reasonable time frame. The Office will also continue to engage with a variety of reliable sources and relevant stakeholders on all matters relevant to the preliminary examination of the situation in the Philippines,” ICC said.

“Any alleged crimes occurring in the future in the context of the same situation could also be included in the Office’s analysis. Accordingly, the Office will also continue to record allegations of crimes committed in the Philippines to the extent that they may fall within the jurisdiction of the Court,” it added.

ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda announced the start of preliminary examination on Feb. 8. On March 17, the Philippines submitted its withdrawal from the Rome Statute with the United Nations Secretary-General.

In its report, however, the ICC cited Article 127 of the Rome Statute stating that withdrawal from the ICC will take effect only a year after the submission of the notice of withdrawal.

“The Court retains jurisdiction with respect to alleged crimes that have occurred on the territory of the Philippines during the period when it was a State Party to the Statute,” the report said.

The court said the office of Ms. Bensouda received 52 communications on the alleged crimes against humanity linked to the war on drugs.

The ICC also alleged that over 12,000 have been killed since July 1, 2016, the start of Mr. Duterte’s presidency. Anti-drug police operations, however, only cite over 4,800 casualties so far.

The Palace has yet to issue its statement as of this reporting. — Vann Marlo M. Villegas